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SPANISH LAKE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT






NORTH COUNTY FIRE STATION CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS


Spanish Lake Fire Station 1 - 12220 Bellefontaine Rd. (Photo by STLmetroFIRENEWS)

February 18, 2016 - Spanish Lake Fire Protection District Spanish Lake Fire District Facebook

SPANISH LAKE, MO. - Moving Day. Due to renovations at Fire Station 1 on Bellefontaine Road, firefighters will be temporarily relocating to Fire Station 2 on Larimore. The renovation is being funded by a no-tax increase bond issue that was approved by the voters of the district. Thanks as always for supporting your firefighters.

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FIREFIGHTERS TRAINING FOR ICE RESCUES WITH SPECIALIZED EQUIPMENT


Photo by Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

January 26, 2016 - Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

SPANISH LAKE, MO. - Firefighters training today on ice rescue techniques at Spanish Lake County Park. STAY OFF THE ICE!!!!

Several ice rescues have occurred throughout the St. Louis area recently.

We want you to be safe so we'll say it again...STAY OFF THE ICE!!!

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FIRE DISTRICT RETIREMENT OF FIREFIGHTER, CAPTAIN AND FIRE CHIEF


Photo by Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

December 14, 2015 - Spanish Lake Fire Protection Distict

SPANISH LAKE, MO. - Congrats to (from left to right) Captain Larry Breite, Chief Mike Flavin, and Firefighter Bob Vierdag on their recent retirement from the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District.

A combined total of 114 years of service to the citizens of Spanish Lake. Thank You for your Dedication.

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FIRE CHIEF PROMOTION


FIRE CHIEF RICHARD SWAIN

November 18, 2015 - Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

SPANISH LAKE, MO. - Spanish Lake Fire Protection District Board of Directors has promoted Captain Richard Swain to the rank of Fire Chief effective October 28, 2015.

Chief Swain has served the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District for 43 years.

Congratulations to Chief Swain.

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SPANISH LAKE FIRE CHIEF RETIREMENT


Chief Michael Flavin

October 27, 2015 - Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

SPANISH LAKE, MO. - The Spanish Lake Fire Protection District has announced the retirement of Fire Chief Michael Flavin, effective Wednesday, October 28, 2015.

Captain Richard Swain has been named interim Fire Chief by the Board of Directors and will replace Chief Flavin as Fire Chief upon his retirement.

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LOCAL FAMILY MOURNS FATHER WHO DIED IN HOUSE FIRE


Last week, three of Levi Griffin's children watched their home burn - while their father was trapped inside.

September 5, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch PJ Randhawa, KSDK

SPANISH LAKE, MO. - Last week, three of Levi Griffin's children watched their home burn - while their father was trapped inside.

The 34-year-old father was trapped in the basement while a fire burned through his home. Three of his children and his mother got out.

The four children: Alyssa, 9, Levi Jr., 7, and twins Antoine and Antonio, 5, also lost everything they own. Now, they're asking for help from the community.

"For 5-year-olds to see the flames, that was a pretty big deal for them. I still don't think they get it, or understand it. Any of them," Natasha Neal, Griffin's cousin, said.

A stroke had made it difficult for Levi to walk in recent years, and despite his mother's attempts to rescue him from the burning home, he couldn't make it through the smoke.

"She just thought when she went back in to get him, he was behind her. He did get out of the bed, but he didn't make it," Neal said.

But his eldest daughter, Alyssa, still talks about a doting father.

"He was very caring, very caring. And loving. He would make us breakfast and take us outside to play," Alyssa said.

On the eve of Levi's funeral, the family says they're trying to explain and comfort his four young children who've lost it all.

"Everything was burnt you know. From clothes, toys, books. They just went back to school so a lot of their uniforms.... everything was destroyed," said Neal.

And the challenges may be just beginning. Too young to comprehend what's happened, it is unknown how or when the kids will realize their father is gone.

"[The twins] have a birthday coming up on Monday. They'll be six on Monday. I just ask that you pray for all of us," Neal said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the children rebuild their lives and home.

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MAN DEAD IN SPANISH LAKE FIRE


Photo by KSDK

August 29, 2015 - KSDK Sam Clancy and PJ Randhawa, KSDK

SPANISH LAKE MO. - A Spanish Lake father died in the basement of his home - trapped by fire Saturday night.

Family members say that 34-year-old Levi Griffin, 34, was one of five people in the move when the fire started at around 4 p.m. The other four - Griffin's mother 5-year-old twin sons and 7-year-old son - all made it out, but Griffin did not.

When St. Louis County Police Officers arrived on the scene on the 11400 block of Ortega they could not get into the house because of the excessive heat and smoke.

Firefighters arrived on the scene and put the fire out shortly after police arrived. When police officers made their way into the house, they found Griffin's body in the basement of the house.

"We really didn't know where he was. We tried to get in, but excessive heat, it forced us out," said Jason Raines, Captain of the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District.

Family members say Griffin was still recovering from a stroke that he suffered earlier this year, making it difficult for him to walk.

Neighbors said they could see the smoke all the way from the highway while they were on their way home.

"The smoke was so thick, when we pulled up, it was billowing," said Nicole Burton, a neighbor.

Around 4 p.m., the basement of the home off Ortega Drive became completely engulfed in flames.

"We saw the grandmother hollering, 'Please help me help me!'" said Marilyn Wilkinson, a neighbor.

St. Louis County Police Department Crimes Against Persons Unit, Crime Scene Unit and Bomb and Arson Unit are all investigating.

This story will be updated when more information becomes available.

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EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY - FIREFIGHTER/EMT

August 12, 2015 - Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

SPANISH LAKE, MO. - The Spanish Lake Fire Protection District has an opening for the position of Firefighter/EMT.

Applicants must possess St Louis County Fire Academy certification and a Missouri EMT-B license.

Applications may be picked up, completed and returned August 17th thru August 21st at 11813 Larimore Road 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

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FIRE CAPTAIN RETIRES AFTER 43+ YEARS OF SEVICE


Photo by Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

July 29, 2015 - Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

SPANISH LAKE, MO. - Captain Larry Breite retired from the Spanish Lake Fire District last week. Larry served the District for 43+ years beginning his professional career in February 1, 1972 and retired July 15, 2015.

Larry's distinguished career began as a Volunteer Firefighter prior to his employment and rose through the ranks to the level of Acting Fire Chief at the time of his retirement.

Our best wishes to Larry on his retirement spending time with Wife, Son, Daughter and grand children, as well his favorite past time fishing.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, Officers and Firefighters we wish Larry well as he begins a new Chapter in his life and Good Luck on his well deserved retirement.

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FIREFIGHTER RETIRES AFTER 29 YEARS OF SERVICE


Firefighter Robert Vierdag. Photo: by Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

July 8, 2015 - Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

SPANISH LAKE - Firefighter Robert Vierdag retired from the Spanish Lake Fire District recently. Bob served the District for 29 years beginning his career in 1986.

Our best wishes to Bob on his retirement and good luck fishing at the Lake and spending time with his family especially his grandson. On behalf of the Board of Directors, Officers and Firefighters we wish Bob nothing but the best on his well deserved retirement.

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POLICE: NEIGHBORS REPORTED HEARING EXPLOSIONS BEFORE SPANISH LAKE HOME FIRE

January 12, 2015 - KMOV

SPANISH LAKE - The St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson Unit is investigating an early morning blaze in Spanish Lake.

Authorities told News 4 neighbors reported hearing explosions when a house caught fire in the 12000 block of Bellefontaine Road around 2:15 a.m.

Firefighters say they are currently unsure if anyone was inside the home at the time of the fire. Neighbors told authorities all of the family's cars were in the driveway but an RV was missing.Fire officials said one firefighter was taken to the hospital for an unrelated illness.

No other details were immediately available.

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FIRE DESTROYS SPANISH LAKE HOME

December 26, 2014 - KMOV

SPANISH LAKE - The Spanish Lake Fire Protection District said the preliminary cause of an early morning fire that destroyed a home in the 1400 block of Farmview was electrical. Officials said the fire had been burning in the wall for some time, which resulted in structure damage to the home.

Two adults and seven children were in the home and disaster volunteers with the American Red Cross are providing emergency food, infant formula and shelter.

More on KMOV story

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SPANISH LAKE FIREFIGHTER RETIRES AFTER 42 YEARS OF SERVICE


Mark is shown with his two sons, Nick (right) and Steven (center). Steven is a firefighter with the St. Louis Fire Department and Nick is a firefighter with the Ferguson Fire Department.

December 3, 2014

SPANISH LAKE - Steven 'Mark' Lodes has retired from the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District effective on December 2nd, 2014. Mark retired as a firefighter/engineer with the Fire District, where he has served for the last 42 years.

Mark has said "Now I can really spend as much time as I want in the deer stand and duck blind as I've always wanted to".

Congratulations to Mark Lodes on his retirement and long service to the Spanish Lake Community.

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FIRE DISTRICT RECEIVED DELIVERY OF NEW PUMPER TRUCK

August 27, 2014 -

SPANISH LAKE - The Spanish Lake Fire Protection District recently received delivery of a new Rosenbauer RBM Commander Pumper. The pumper is powered by a 450 HP Cummins diesel engine, is equipped with a 1500 GPM rear mounted Hale pump, 60 gal. foam tank, and a 760 gallon water tank. The truck will also carry rescue equipment.

The truck was purchased from Sentinel Emergency Solutions, Arnold, MO.

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FIRE DEPARTMENT K-9 DIES WHILE ON DUTY

July 8, 2014 - Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Spanish Lake Firefighter Patrick Horn has announced the passing of his longtime K-9 partner Hochrein in the following statement:

"It is with deep regret that I inform you that at 22:45 on 7/7/14, while responding to a missing three year old girl in Pittsfield, Ill., my K9 partner Hochrein, has passed away. He has crossed the rainbow bridge doing something he was trained to do and loved doing it. He was a rescue/cadaver dog and offical member of the Spanish Lake Fire District, Missouri Region C Technical Rescue Team Canine Division and St.Louis Metropolitan Heavy Rescue Task Force. Hochrein DSN 5109 is now a "FREE DOG"

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SPANISH LAKE FIRE DISTRICT PROMOTION

June 16, 2014 - Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

SPANISH LAKE - The Spanish Lake Fire Protection District has announced the promotion of Firefighter John Schroeder to the position of Captain.

Shown at left is Captain Schroeder with his son pinning on his badge at a recent fire district promotion ceremony.

Spanish Lake Fire District web site

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NORTH COUNTY FIREFIGHTER PROMOTED TO CAPTAIN

April 8, 2014 -

SPANISH LAKE - Congratulations to Firefighter John Schroeder on being promoted to Captain with the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District of St. Louis County.

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DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF RETIRES AFTER 44 YEARS OF SERVICE
Deputy Chief Darryl Zastrow shown on the left, with his son Darryl Jr., who is a paramedic with Christian Hospital Northeast.

March 14, 2014 -

SPANISH LAKE - Deputy Fire Chief Darryl Zastrow will retire on April 21st, 2014 from the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District. His last duty day was yesterday March 13th. Deputy Chief Zastrow has been with the Fire District since 1969 and has served as a Firefighter, Engineer, Captain, Deputy Fire Chief and Fire Marshal over the last 44 years. He also was certified with the State of Missouri as Firefighter I&II, Fire Inspector, and Fire Investigator.

Congratulations to Deputy Chief Zastow for his years of service to the Fire District and Community.




WILLIAM BROGDEN REMEMBERED TODAY BY THE BACKSTOPPERS

January 22, 2014 - The Backstoppers, Inc.

Today we honor and remember Firefighter William Brogden of the Spanish Lake Volunteer Fire Department. Firefighter Brogden died in an automobile accident while responding to a call.

The Brogden family was the first family to be assisted by The BackStoppers (January 22, 1960).

THE BACKSTOPPERS




3 Hospitalized after Apparent Chlorine Leak at Hazelwood East High School

July 10, 2013 - KMOV

SPANISH LAKE - Three people were hospitalized after an apparent chlorine leak at Hazelwood East High School in north St. Louis County.

Several students told News 4 they smelled an overwhelming chlorine-like odor as soon as they walked inside the school in the 11300 block of Dunn Rd. Wednesday morning.

Authorities decided to evacuate all students there for summer school and a construction crew working inside the building at the time.

The students were moved to nearby Kirby Junior High School in the 1860 block of Dunn Rd.

Police said several victims were complaining of feeling ill after inhaling the chemical. Multiple police vehicles and three ambulances were called to the scene. Two students and a construction worker were transported to the hospital in unknown condition.

Authorities called a HazMat crews to the scene to investigate the apparent leak. Their investigation was expected to be complete by 2 p.m.

Additional details were not immediately available.

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Aircraft Parts Cause Bomb Scare In Spanish Lake, MO

May 28, 2013 - KTVI

SPANISH LAKE - A bomb scare turned out to be a false alarm in Spanish Lake late Tuesday afternoon.

This happened at a home near the intersection of Bellefontaine Road and Twillman Avenue.

Authorities said an elderly man passed away. When relatives were going through his belongings, they found a box marked 1954. The relatives thought there were explosives inside the box.

Bomb and Arson Squad evacuated an area of about 300 yards around the home. About 30 residents were displaced while crews investigated the box.

Investigators say aircraft parts were inside the box, not explosives. The elderly man was a former pilot.

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Child airlifted after being hit by vehicle in St. Louis County

April 30, 2013 - KMOV

SPANISH LAKE - A child was airlifted to the hospital after being struck by a vehicle in north St. Louis County Tuesday morning.

Authorities said the incident happened near the intersection of Coal Bank and Lilac in Spanish Lake around 7:15 a.m.

The child was being airlifted to the hospital in unknown condition.

The cause of the wreck was not clear.

We'll be sure to update this developing story as more information becomes available.

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Search for missing boaters on Mississippi River called off for the night

April 6, 2013 - KSDK

HARTFORD, ILL. - A search for two missing boaters near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers will resume Sunday morning.

Authorities say the accident happened around 1:30 p.m. Saturday on the rivers near Hartford, Ill.

There were three people in the boat when it overturned, including a ten-year-old boy who was rescued by barge workers. Officials said he is in good condition. .

Hartford Assistant Fire Chief Bill Owens said, "The barge crew actually saw the boy in the water and went and got the life ring. They did their job very well. A couple guys went to rescue; a couple guys went to get stuff ready for the boy. They dressed him in warm, dry clothes."

As many as 45 rescue personnel from several area departments walked the banks of the river and put up to 7 boats in the water. Officials say wind and waves created conditions which were not good for search and rescue crews to be out in, much less casual boaters.

Fire Chief Dave Owens said, "It's probably 3-4 foot wakes. There's a lot of white caps. A small john boat, small fishing boat. We had some boats we didn't even deploy just because of the size of the boat and the condition of the river."

A staging area was set up in Hartford, which is around seven miles south of Alton along the Mississippi River. Search and rescue crews will resume their efforts Sunday morning, though their focus will likely be on recovery.

Officials have not released the identity of the victims. Grieving family members were on the scene.

Crews who assisted include the Missouri State Water Patrol, Edwardsville, Alton, West Alton, Spanish Lake, Orchard Farm, Roxana, South Roxana, Rivers Pointe, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Coast Guard, and St. Louis County.

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UPDATE:
One body recovered, second still missing

April 26, 2013 - The Telegraph

HARTFORD - Authorities continue their search for the second victim of a recent boating mishap on the Mississippi River, but they acknowledge that flood-swollen waters are hampering progress.

The body of one of the victims, Mike J. Flythe, 60, of St. Louis, was recovered from the Mississippi River last Saturday afternoon near the Jefferson Barracks Bridge in south St. Louis County, Capt. Tim Daiber, of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police, said Friday.

The search continues for the second victim, Wendell B. Robinson, 46, of Bellefontaine Neighbors, Mo.

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UPDATE:
Second fisherman's body recovered

April 29, 2013 - The Telegraph

HARTFORD - The body of a second fisherman missing and presumed drowned on the Mississippi River has been recovered, authorities said Monday.

The body of Wendell B. Robinson, 46, of Bellefontaine Neighbors, Mo., was found in the river at Cape Girardeau, Mo., said Tim Daiber, captain of Region 4 of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police.

The body was spotted in debris alongside a dock about 9 a.m. Sunday and recovered around noon, he said. Daiber was not immediately sure about who spotted the body.

Robinson had been missing since April 6, after he and a friend, Mike J. Flythe, 60, of St. Louis were thrown overboard when their fishing boat capsized in Hartford, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

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Spanish Lake chief retires after 53 years of chasing fires

September 30, 2012 - ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH -

SPANISH LAKE - Fire Chief Robert Ritter's desk is clean. His collection of antique model fire trucks is packed away at home.

"It's time," said Ritter.

The chief understates. Ritter, 73, was 19 when he joined the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District as a volunteer in 1958. Except for a brief call-up in the Missouri National Guard, he's been with the district ever since, becoming a full-time firefighter in 1963 and serving the last seven years as chief.

That's more than 53 years with one fire department. He retires on Tuesday.

Steadiness clearly is one of his traits. Ritter and his wife, Diana, live three blocks away from fire headquarters in the house he grew up in. He's lived in the house on Northdale Avenue all but three years of his life.

The district takes its name from the 17 square miles it serves in unincorporated far north St. Louis County.

Replacing Ritter is deputy chief Michael Flavin, who will be interim chief while the district board ponders filling the job permanently. Ritter announced his retirement six months ago. Flavin said that has given the department time for a smooth transition. It also allowed Ritter to clear his once-cluttered desk.

Flavin, 60, has been with the Spanish Lake department for 41 years, putting him within reach if he wanted to challenge Ritter for longevity.

"He can have the record," Flavin said. "I hope to be done at 65."

Five decades of fire service is unusual but not unheard of. Lemay Fire Protection District Chief Neil Svetanics, formerly the chief in St. Louis, reached 50 years as a firefighter in May, 39 of that with the city. Kansas City fire Capt. Louis "Scooter" Martin retired in January after 51 years.

St. Louis Fire Department Capt. Dan Sutter said the longest service by a firefighter in department records is 42 years.

Two years before Ritter was born, his parents moved into one of the first subdivisions in Spanish Lake. He was freshly graduated from Hazelwood High when he became a volunteer firefighter.

About 3,500 people lived in the area in 1953 when voters created the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District, bounded by Missouri 367 to the west, the Missouri and Mississippi rivers to the north and east, and what is now Interstate 270 to the south. The U.S. Census of 2010 puts the population at 19,650.

Spanish Lake's name dates to the Spanish colonial era. Bellefontaine Road runs to the former site of Fort Belle Fontaine, the local U.S. Army installation before Jefferson Barracks was established in 1826 in South County. Spanish Lake's population grew quickly during North County's residential building boom in the 1960s and 1970s, but the bottomlands and hills near the rivers still keep their rural charm. Residents have resisted efforts to incorporate or be annexed, even voting down a proposed sidewalk district in 1974.

Ritter said he was one of six paid firefighters when he went full time on Jan. 1, 1963. His main job was driving the district's 1952 Seagrave pumper. The district's other fire truck was Army surplus from World War II.

Ritter rose through the ranks, becoming assistant chief in 1978 and chief in 2005. The district now has 23 firefighters, two fire stations, two fire trucks, a support vehicle and a 22-foot boat for river rescues.

He said the main changes in fire service during his career have been training, fire technology and seat belts in automobiles.

"My training was strictly the on-the-job variety," Ritter said. "If there was a house fire, you crawled in and felt your way around. Now our firefighters have regular training and thermal-imaging cameras for fires. Seat belts have greatly reduced what used to be terrible carnage on our roads."

Ritter said he is grateful for his career and the neighborhood, which he never felt the urge to leave.

Spanish Lake is "a good area," he said. "It has been rewarding to be able to help people in times of distress. In this work, we see plenty of it."
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